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Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > Human Rights & Humanitarian Law > Armed Conflict & the Law > Child Soldiers and the Law > Tamil children orphaned by Sri Lanka's war and tsunami - and maligned by UNICEF!

Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka:
Politics, Human Rights & the Law

Tamil children orphaned by Sri Lanka's war and tsunami
- and maligned by UNICEF!

S.Sivanayagam - Editorial - ஒரு பேப்பர் , April 2005
[see also Child Soldiers & the Law]

When do we see soldiers in action? During war of course. Even a child knows that. But in Sri Lanka there are grown-up people seeing child soldiers everywhere although there has been no war for more than three years. Is it an optical illusion or some kind of mental disorder? How does one differentiate a child from a child soldier ? How does one differentiate a child from an adult? It all depends either on the fair-mindedness or the inbuilt prejudices of the onlooker.

UNICEF's agenda

UNICEF, an organisation that has been long playing anti-LTTE politics in Sri Lanka had according to a report counted 3516 cases of child soldiers since the war stopped in February 2002. One does not know how they did the counting. Obviously by using a telescope and a calculator. A drunken man soaked in liquor can sometimes see a pink elephant. But other mortals, however hard they try can never see a pink elephant. To the UNICEF man in Colombo, to Kadirgamar, to the columnists of the Island newspaper, neither of whom had ever set eyes on the suffering orphan Tamil children in the Vanni taken care by the LTTE and TRO, every child there must look like a child soldier. Have they ever shown one ounce of concern for the little children who lost their father or their mother or lost both by indiscriminate bombing from the air or shelling from land?

There was a fat, glossy magazine called " marie claire" (April 2005) meant for idle affluent women mad about clothes and fashions that had an article written by a woman named Jane White. She went to the Vanni and she says she saw child soldiers. Who were those child soldiers?

Karate lessons

One picture showed young girls taking karate lessons "at a Tamil Tigers orphanage" Many white children in this country go for karate lessons. That does not make them child soldiers. There was another picture of a little child, around three or four years old wearing the uniform of a Tamil Tiger. Some proud parent had obviously felt happy in seeing him in such a dress. In Britain, any child of three and four can buy in a toy shop the uniform of a policeman, helmet, walkie-talkie etc. That doesn't make him a policeman.

Another picture shows small children with the caption that says "An armed soldier stands guard over children at a temporary relief camp". Only the soldier's legs and boots are shown , but no mention of the fact that he is a Sri Lankan soldier. The writer asks a little child in his innocence to pose for a picture covering his face with fresh flowers, and the caption says "fresh flowers are used to protect the identity of former child soldiers" Wasn't that a piece of diabolical journalism? So what was the motive of that stupid woman carrying such pictures to prove the existence of child soldiers? There was only one motive: to demonise the Tamil Tigers in the eyes of the world.

Loaded headline

The very headline of the article is loaded for a purpose. It says "From tsunami orphans to SUICIDE BOMBERS" . Even photos of innocent-looking, suffering children are given mischievous captions. It is obvious that the woman called Jane White (if that is her real name) was sent there by the UNICEF man in Colombo to look after his own agenda. It is a pity that when she was herself a small child Jane White's parents never taught her - Tell No Lies.

There is no point in writing to the magazine protesting the publication of such mischievous rubbish because the editor of the magazine will never publish it. Her duty is to stand by her contributor, not, repeat NOT, TO STAND BY THE TRUTH. We had a look at the magazine's so-called Letters Page. There were just five letters from readers, none of which was of any consequence.

There is no point in the LTTE trying to offer explanations to such people whose sole agenda is to pull out this allegation of child soldiers like a magician pulling out rabbit from inside a top hat. These are people who cannot bear the sight of the LTTE earning recognition and prestige in the eyes of the international community.

Denials won't help

Denials and explanations are not going to change the mind-set of these detractors. The only way to shut them up is to get about five hundred children of the ages of three and four, dress them up in the uniforms of Tamil Tigers, and parade them in web sites and newspapers with the bold caption - LTTE's child soldiers. Send copies of those photographs to the UNICEF office in Colombo and to the Island newspaper requesting publication. If the Island does not publish it, the editor will at least get the message. If he publishes it, he will look foolish in the eyes of the world.

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